Fine Japanese art and tea implements

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A Rare Antique “Tsutsu” Tea Bowl by Raku IV Ichinyū ( 1640-1696 )

A Rare Antique “Tsutsu” Tea Bowl by Raku IV Ichinyū ( 1640-1696 )


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Tea Articles: Pre 1700: Item # 1489859

Please refer to our stock # TRC240304 when inquiring.
Kyoto Ceramics and Fine Art
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Kamigamo District
Kyoto, Japan


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Over the years we have taken a special interest in Raku pottery, especially in pieces made by the original Raku family (16 generations) and by a branch kiln known as Tamamizu—started by the illegitimate son of the potter Ichinyū, whose work we see here. Approximately 350 years old, this piece displays a beautiful red glaze and has a shape known as “tsutsu” with high walls and a slender form making it ideal for keeping in heat during the cold winter months. Antique gold repairs cover one side of the vessel, beautifully complimenting the red glaze and adding an air of mystique to this historic yet functional art piece.

Born the eldest son of Raku III Dōnyū (1599-1656), Ichinyū was a prolific potter and in the modern day you occasionally come across works claiming to be by this artist; though, it can be quite a challenge to properly authenticate these pieces. For roughly the past 250 years, the convention of placing a stamp on every work and placing these works in signed boxes with their Raku seal has been the norm. Unfortunately, earlier potters did not frequently stamp their pieces nor did they often provide signed boxes, so, for these pieces we rely heavily on certification boxes provided by later Raku potters and by Grand Tea Masters of the major tea schools in Japan down through the generations. We also find a number of pieces with “collector” boxes but in almost all cases these are not considered reliable. In the case of this piece, we are fortunate to have a very old wood box with a certification by the 9th Raku potter Ryōnyū (1756-1834). Specifically, his “middle period stamp” is used on the box giving us confidence this is indeed an original work by Ichinyū. Several other tell-tale signs are present including an aesthetic that conforms to the style of Ichinyū, the gold repairs that look to be antique, and the presence of a faint oil spotting effect that can be seen on the base of the tea bowl. This effect typically takes several hundred years to develop, and, when present, is a very good sign of authenticity as this would not be present on a piece produced in the modern era.

In fine antique condition, this historic tea bowl is 3.75 inches at its widest point (9.5cm), and stands 3.9 inches tall (10cm). It comes with an authentication box by the 9th Raku Kichizaemon Ryōnyū (1756-1834) and with an outer protective box that looks to have been provided sometime in late Edo or in Meiji. Both boxes are custom fit, the authentication box perfectly housing the tea bowl and the outer protective box perfectly housing the certification box. In addition, the tea bowl has a custom fit silk pouch with drawstrings and an antique protective wrapping cloth. *** Contact us for information regarding price, for examples of Ryōnyū’s middle period stamp used on the certification box, and for additional high resolution images.